Dorian

Dorian : An Imitation

3.69 (1,290 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

'Self's Dorian subtitles itself "an imitation", and that it is exactly what it is, in the full Wildean sense. It flatters its original by taking both subject and style entirely seriously. The locations, characters, plot and epigrams are all transposed from the 1890s to the 1990s...Little is materially altered, but everything is reused - sharpened, blackened and intensified by Self's idiosyncratic remix of Wilde's combination of wit and rage, extravagant debauchery with clinical introspection...Self's reincarnation of Dorian has taken the fag ends of both an English century and an English myth and given them new, troubling and hugely entertaining life' - "Guardian".show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 126 x 201 x 20mm | 198g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0140290567
  • 9780140290561
  • 754,660

Review quote

'Self's Dorian subtitles itself "an imitation", and that is exactly what it is, in the full Wildean sense. It flatters its original by taking both subject and style entirely seriously. The locations, characters, plot and epigrams are all transposed from the 1890s to the 1990s... Little is materially altered, but everything is reused - sharpened, blackened and intensified by Self's idiosyncratic remix of Wilde's combination of wit and rage, extravagant debauchery with clinical introspection...Self's reincarnation of Dorian has taken the fag ends of both an English century and an English myth and given them new, troubling and hugely entertaining life' Guardianshow more

Author information

Will Self has published three short story collections and three novels, all of which are in Penguin. His most recent novel HOW THE DEAD LIVE was shortlisted for the 2000 Whitbread Fiction prize, and DORIAN was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2002. Self is also a big media figure, with a regular BBC Radio 4 slot and a starring role in SHOOTING STARS on BBC2. He lives in Stockwell, South Londonshow more

Review Text

It's the summer of 1981. Charles and Di ('the Royal Broodmare') are about to get married. The inner cities are in flames. Henry Wotton, upper-class, homosexual drug addict, is at the centre of a Chelsea set dedicated to timeless dissolution. His friend Baz Hallward, one-time Warhol groupie and video installation artist, discovers a most remarkable man, the very epitome of male beauty. His name? Dorian Gray. If this all sounds strangely familiar, it's because Will Self has shamelessly appropriated and reworked Oscar Wilde, in much the same way Graham Swift took Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and turned it into Last Orders. No accusations of plagiarism here though - Self wears his influence on his sleeve, though he gives it a characteristically modern(ist) twist. Hallward's installation, Cathode Narcissus, captures all of Dorian's allure - but perhaps it captures another part of him as well. After a night of sexual and chemical debauchery, Henry and Baz find themselves ensnared by a sinister retrovirus, one which is to become synonymous with the Eighties. Fast forward 16 years. The Broodmare's shattered body lies dying in a Parisian underpass. But what of Wotton and Hallward? How did they fare as the stock market soared and their T-cell counts plummeted? And what about Dorian, a sultan of style in an era of mass superficiality? How is it that he remains so youthful and healthy when all around him people are dying? To describe this novel as mere satire is to do it a disservice. What we have here is the rapidly maturing style of a master wordsmith, one who is equally at home in the world of short stories, novellas, journalism or broadcasting. With its high quota of hard drugs and buggery, this is literature William Burroughs would have been proud of. Simply exquisite, even as it wallows in the gutter. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

1,290 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 23% (296)
4 38% (491)
3 27% (352)
2 9% (110)
1 3% (41)
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